A magical, provocative tale of forbidden love and one girl’s struggle for liberation
Hanna has never been outside her secluded community of Clearhaven. She has never questioned why her father has four wives or why she has fourteen brothers and sisters. And in only one week, on her eighteenth birthday, Hanna will follow tradition and become the fifth wife of a man more than twice her age.
But just days before the wedding, Hanna meets an enigmatic stranger who challenges her to question her fate and to follow her own will. And when her mother reveals a secret—one that could grant her the freedom she’s known only in her dreams—Hanna is forced to decide whether she was really meant for something greater than the claustrophobic world of Clearhaven. But can she abandon her beloved younger sister and the only home she’s ever known? Or is there another option—one too fantastical to believe?
With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world—and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.
Hanna, the heroine of this uneven coming-of-age novel with a fantasy element from Canadian author Meades (The Last Hiccup), lives in Clearhaven, an idyllic rustic town whose inhabitants practice polygamy. As Hanna nears her 18th birthday, she becomes formally betrothed to a middle-aged man who watched her grow up and already has four wives. But then she meets Daniel, a Clearhaven resident who has recently returned from a nearby city. As her wedding day approaches, her growing attraction to Daniel causes her to question not only her role in Clearhaven but the town's entire culture. Her father, Jotham, has a financial stake in her union, which becomes more muddled when her mother, Kara, Jotham's second wife, discloses the secret about Hanna's origins suggested by the title. Hanna's plight is sure to move many readers. Others, however, will be put off by the vague, unimaginative worldbuilding and lose patience as Hanna vacillates between doing what the community expects and doing what feels right for her.